PMA has been monitoring all of these recent winter storms and we hope that you and your families are safe and warm. Members of our National Board and our team here at PMA have been directly affected by this dangerous weather. If you were impacted and need assistance, FEEA may be able to help through its emergency hardship and disaster relief programs. Please be sure to share this information with anyone in our Federal family who may need support.
FEEA is offering complimentary tutoring services available to many of your K-12 children (available to any federal worker earning under $100,000 inclusive of locality pay) as well as a COVID emergency assistance program that permits small, no-interest loans and grants to families in need. Please visit FEEA's website or email them to learn more about programs available to you.
For the 2021-22 academic year, PMA continues to offer ten $2,000 scholarships through our official charity, the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund. As a further benefit, FEEA's common application makes it easy to compete for more than 200 awards valued between $1,000 and $7,500. Be sure to apply no later than March 25th at 3PM Eastern (there are no extensions available to this deadline for any reason so please don't wait for the last minute!). Not a PMA member? Use the attached form to sign up today!
We are also seeking volunteers to serve as readers for this scholarship cycle. Readers review and score 30-40 applications in April or May, with a total time commitment under six hours over two or three weeks. This is performed virtually through an online portal. If you or someone you know is willing to volunteer for FEEA in this capacity, please follow the directions in this link to express interest. Readers need not be Federal employees - this is a great opportunity for anyone you know looking for an easy way to help!
With the impeachment trial behind us, the Congress has returned to stimulus bill discussions. We've also seen some activity gearing up within OPM, which remains without nominees to key roles. This week, OPM set up a site and posted FAQs to help you learn about the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force and how federal agencies can implement the Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing.
The IRS backlog and its impact on taxpayers has caught the attention of investigative journalists in New York. PMA works hard to lift up our members' hard work and dedication to the taxpayers we serve. We will continue to push back on unfair narratives, particularly in situations where the IRS is asked to do more with less. We are grateful to Commissioner Rettig for his clarifying and supportive remarks at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center last month. We will continue to press Congress for appropriate agency funding so we can improve staffing and training. We are also committed to helping the Congress find ways to enhance our enforcement toolkit so that administering the tax code is feasible, efficient, and equitable. We are pleased that our Commissioner was able to meet with Secretary Yellen about the IRS's future needs and excited to work closely with the IRS in its quest for multi-year budgeting.
PMA attended meetings this week with HCO's COVID Response Team and the IRS remains interested in granting administrative time to employees so they can get vaccinated. The IRS shared that they elevated this interest to the Treasury Department. PMA is supporting the IRS by using our voice to urge OPM to take quick action on Treasury's request. We expect to hear some good news on this very soon so please keep an eye out for additional communications on this important flexibility.
PMA has received several complaints from our members who've been told in various ways that they "don't have any rights" because they are NBU. Pandemic-related flexibilities are available to all IRS workers - not just those represented by NTEU. We know our members are committed to leadership excellence and call on you to correct this misconception whenever you hear it. NBU workers are civil servants just like BU workers and are entitled to all the workplace protections and flexibilities offered to all during this time. We are particularly troubled to hear about second-level and third-level managers denying requests from managers seeking medical treatment. Situations like that could violate IRS policies, Civil Service regulations, or even Federal law. Those managers are also exposing themselves to civil liability in their personal capacity when they violate established workforce policies in a way that harms someone on their team. PMA has elevated these situations to IRS HCO so that they can clarify for our fellow managers that NBU workers do in fact have many rights, including the right to file grievances. If you need more information about NBU workforce policies, you can find that information in IRM Part 6. Meanwhile, please be kind to one another and remember that the only way through this impossibly challenging time is to work together and support each other.
The IRS is seeking input through March 5th to inform its Agencywide EDI Strategy and Roadmap. Please be sure you and your teams complete the survey.
There’s never been a more important time to become a PMA member. Through our consultative relationship with IRS HQ, we’ve worked to resolve questions, concerns, and inconsistencies around performance pay, leave administration, professional liability, retirement, safety, and leadership succession to name only a few. We are working diligently to deepen our relationships throughout the IRS and to develop new relationships throughout the center of government and with our sponsors so that we can grow our impact. We do all of this and more for a mere $3.50 per pay period – an incredible value. I ask each of you to encourage your peers in the non-bargaining unit to consider signing up using the attached form - please forward this newsletter to one person in your network who might benefit from our advocacy and information. If you know a retiree who would benefit from our advocacy, we offer lifetime memberships to them for a one-time $100 payment. Membership also comes with many additional benefits such as discounted rates from our sponsors GEICO and FEDS Protection. PMA members participating in a FEHB plan may be able to get free, state-of-the-art hearing aids through our partner Eargo. Just mention PMA and they will waive your copay for most health plans. This benefit is available to anyone in your family using your FEHB plan!
Don't forget to follow PMA on social media! You can forward this email to your personal address to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages. We are working to better leverage these tools so we can keep in touch with each of you. Soon we will debut our Instagram and LinkedIn pages as we continue to work on refreshing our virtual toolkit.
PMA’s National Board is looking for members throughout the country who are willing to consider serving as chapter president. If you're in Colorado or Georgia, please reach out today! We’re also always happy to hear from members who’d like to found a local chapter in their area. Local chapters are active around the country and work with local executives, FEBs, and GLCs to promote the interests of management. Chapter presidents also attend national calls quarterly with the National Board as members of our Association Leadership Committee. The Committee will participate in PMA's modernization project, which is already underway. The time commitment is minimal and it’s a great way to improve conditions in your office. If you or someone you know is interested, please reply to our newsletter and we will connect you with resources to get started.
Please be sure to contact us with any news, good or bad, on in-office COVID safety measures. We've been working closely with IRS leadership throughout the pandemic to ensure your safety is their sole priority, and it truly is. At the same time, we understand that locally issues can arise. We encourage you to follow your business unit's reporting protocol for gaps in compliance or supply needs. It is helpful to PMA if you share that feedback with us too so that we can bring it into our weekly COVID response briefings.
As PMA members, please be sure to follow the agency's COVID reporting guidance here. If you have feedback on any of the steps mandated, or on any FAQs and talking points provided, please share with us.
Congratulations on completing the first week of the filing season!